Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and AstraZeneca announced that the companies have entered into a collaboration to research, develop and commercialize small molecule compounds directed against the GPR75 target with the potential to treat obesity and related co-morbidities. The collaboration builds on the recent discovery from the Regeneron Genetics Center® of rare genetic mutations in the GPR75 gene associated with protection against obesity and on early joint research initiated soon after discovery of the target so that potential treatments can be developed as quickly as possible. The companies will evenly split research and development costs and share equally in any future potential profits.
As published in Science, the new target was found by sequencing nearly 650,000 people and identifying individuals with rare protective mutations. Individuals with at least one inactive copy of the GPR75 gene had lower BMI and, on average, tended to weigh about 12 pounds less and faced a 54% lower risk of obesity than those without the mutation. Strong associations were also seen with improvements in diabetes parameters, including glucose lowering. Obesity and insulin resistance are key drivers in the development of type 2 diabetes and often lead to cardiorenal complications, as well as liver disease.
“The next era of medicine is being fueled by important genetics findings that direct drug developers on how to deploy our toolkit of biologics, small molecules and gene editing technologies in order to safely help patients in need,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. “As experts on genetics and human biology, Regeneron is excited to join forces with the chemistry and small molecule leaders at AstraZeneca, as we seek to develop new medicines tackling the harmful and costly obesity epidemic.”
“We are pleased to announce this important collaboration with Regeneron to identify small molecule modulators against GPR75, a newly identified target with genetic validation in metabolic disorders. Obesity and insulin resistance remain key drivers in the development of type 2 diabetes and areas of significant unmet medical need,” said Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca.
Obesity is associated with many serious health complications and drives organ dysfunction, including in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas. Worldwide the prevalence of obesity has more than tripled since 1975, and approximately 650 million adults are estimated to live with obesity today.
Regeneron is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for over 30 years by physician-scientists, our unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to nine FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, almost all of which were homegrown in our laboratories. Our medicines and pipeline are designed to help patients with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, pain, hematologic conditions, infectious diseases and rare diseases.